One of the astronauts on Apollo 11, Michael Collins has died at the age of 90 after a battle with cancer.
Collins was part of the three-man crew that made history by landing on the moon in 1969, but unlike Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, he never walked on the moon.
However, Collins was tasked with piloting the command module that circled 60 miles above his comrades and took home a different and unique experience of the mission.
His death was confirmed by his family in a statement Wednesday morning.
The tributes have been pouring in following the announcement of his demise.
Acting NASA administrator, Steve Jurczyk said: “Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins.
“As pilot of the Apollo 11 command module – some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ – while his colleagues walked on the Moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone.
“He also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot.
“Michael remained a tireless promoter of space. ‘Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,” he said.
Collins has been referred to as ‘The Forgotten Man’ during the Apollo 11 lunar landing, as he circled above while Armstrong and Aldrin made ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’
“The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance,” he said later.
“Tiny. Very shiny. Blue and white. Bright. Beautiful. Serene and fragile.”